Sophia Jackson, an academic facilitator at Garinger High School, was named the Charlotte Post Foundation's educator of the year.
Jackson plans to use the $1,000 Post grant to buy a projector and copies of “The Freedom Writers Diaries” as well as teacher manuals. The materials will help her expand the Garinger Freedom Writers, a program that encourages students to communicate about life challenges and develop critical thinking, into a campus-wide club.
“I take special enjoyment in watching a low-performing student reach his or her potential in a way that surprises only that student,” Jackson said in a news release. “This involves educating the whole child, academically, socially and emotionally. Teaching is truly a work of the heart.”
A single parent, Jackson said the award is also for her 14-year-old daughter Dejah Gilliam, who has been accepted in the East Mecklenburg High International Baccalaureate program.
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The award shows her daughter that hard work pays off. It also confirms what she tells her students: “Be careful what you do. People are always watching.”
In her new role as academic facilitator at Garinger, Jackson will help other teachers and continue teaching an English class. She has been the International Studies School English Department chair since 2006.
Other accolades for Jackson include being selected by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for this summer's Teaching Fellows Institute; a finalist for the CMS Harris Teacher of the Year this spring; and being handpicked in 2007 by Freedom Writers founder Erin Gruwell to receive a $10,000 scholarship for Freedom Writers Institute Training.